How to Teach a Guided Reading Group & Best Practices!

Image result for guided reading
First, check out this GREAT website of strategies to incorporate before, during, or after reading:




Up to 6 students in a group, 3-5x/wk for 30 minutes.  Teacher teaches books at the group's INSTRUCTIONAL LEVEL (90-94% decoding accuracy).


Optional Quick Write ~ Students write 5-6 Fluency Words on white boards (not necessary for grades 3 and up).
Old Story ~ Students reread for 4 minutes a portion of yesterday's book or chapter for fluency and accuracy.  Teacher takes a running record on 1 student. 
Mini-Lesson ~ The mini-lesson is based on teacher observations of students' needs from YESTERDAY'S book.  Introduce the skill in context and model application of the skill.  Guide the students in using the skill.  Teach a new reading strategy:  12 Comprehension Strategies or Reading Strategies.
New Story ~ Give a summary statement of the new book or chapter.  Discuss illustrations, captions, headings. . . .  Students make predictions.  Teacher introduces the new vocabulary.  All students then read at their own pace.  Whisper phones are helpful for the younger students. Teacher listens in to each child, and asks prompting questions.  If students finish at different times they should reread it, but monitor who is lagging significantly behind on a daily basis.  Perhaps the group he/she is in is too difficult.
Follow-up ~ Casually discuss book or chapter.  SEE "AFTER READING STRATEGIES" below.


1.  Summary Statement
  • The teacher gives a brief summary of the story in 2-3 sentences, including the title, author, illustrator, genre, copyright date, and other books by the author.  The purpose is to relate students' prior knowledge to the story.

2.  Picture Walk

  • The teacher and students walk through the book looking at and discussing each of the illustrations.  Through asking questions, the students will come to realize the story line, main idea, structure of the book, predictable patterns, etc.

3.  Vocabulary Introduction

  • During the "picture walk," the teacher should use the vocabulary unique to the story.  Ask students to find these words using graphophonic clues.

BEFORE READING STRATEGIES are ways to increase engagement, motivate the students to read, and increase comprehension.  Choose one of the following:  

  • 5-10 key words from story are written on board.  Predict what the book/chapter will be about using all of the words, then read for a purpose ~ to confirm or revise predictions.
  • If studying verbs, just select verbs to teach from the book.  If studying adjectives, just select adjectives. . . .
  • Select 3-4 pictures from the story and make copies of them.  The students predict what the book is about by arranging pictures and telling a story.
  • Bring in objects that are in the book to teach the new vocabulary.
  • Anticipation Guides ~ write 5-10 statements based on the content of the story or nonfiction piece.  Students attempt to answer yes/no or true/false for each statement.  They then read to correct their guides.
  • Fill in the Blank ~ The teacher selects 2 sentences from the story with key words missing.  Students brainstorm all of the possible words that could fill in the blank.  This is a good strategy to use for students who do not use context clues when they are reading.

DURING READING STRATEGIES are important to assess what the students know and what they think will happen.  This is particularly important for longer stories.  Students whisper read. Listen in to each child.

  • Concept Mapping ~ students record the main idea of the story, and then map all facts they have learned up to the stopping point.  This works will for students who forget the details.  The teacher can provide the main idea and/or some details.
  • Inspiration ( can help you create a map on the computer.
  • See my page for prompts to ask during guided reading groups. (Prompts for the Reading Strategies.)
  • Teachers should write observations of students' reading behaviors at this time. 



  • Students come up with their own questions to ask each other.
  • Students retell** the selection, or summarize using "Somebody Wanted But So Then."
  • Prepare sentence strips of the story plot and the students sequence the story.
  • Put specific questions in plastic Easter eggs.  Students each pick one and call on a group member to answer.
  • See my Open Ended Questions page. 
  • See my Expectations By Grade Level page.  1st graders are expected to retell, make a connection, and tell a favorite part and why.  2nd graders are expected to retell, state the most important event and why it is important, and to tell author's message. . . .
  • Students discuss strategies that they used.  
  • Revisit the mini-lesson and how that strategy was used today.

**RETELLING** after reading, WITH THE BOOK CLOSED is wonderful, especially for beginning readers.  They should:

  1.  Tell most events in sequence, or tell key facts for nonfiction
  2.  Include important details
  3.  Refer to characters or topics by specific names
  4.  Include key vocabulary from text
  5.  Respond to any questions asked with interpretation that shows higher level thinking or connections

Teacher should ask the children in the guided reading group who are NOT retelling if the RETELLER is giving enough information.  The store Really Good Stuff sells cute retelling ropes:  Retelling Ropes so the students have something concrete to scaffold the retelling.



Here are lesson plan templates from Jan Richardson Resources:




Visit:  What Works Clearinghouse which includes the very LATEST BEST PRACTICES based on research!

Research is important

Must see website: .  The site discusses 5 Big Ideas in Beginning Reading, which are Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Fluency with Text, Vocabulary, and Comprehension.  Click on the links within the site for valuable charts and information.

The National Reading Panel states that the best approach to reading instruction must incorporate:

  • Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness
  • Systematic phonics instruction
  • Methods to improve fluency
  • Ways to enhance comprehension

The Panel found that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:

  • Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
  • Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes, and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven't seen before, without first having to memorize them.
  • Fluency—the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to better understand what is read. Children gain fluency by practicing reading until the process becomes automatic; guided oral repeated reading is one approach to helping children become fluent readers.
  • Guided oral reading—reading out loud while getting guidance and feedback from skilled readers. The combination of practice and feedback promotes reading fluency.
  • Teaching vocabulary words—teaching new words, either as they appear in text, or by introducing new words separately. This type of instruction also aids reading ability.
  • Reading comprehension strategies—techniques for helping individuals to understand what they read. Such techniques involve having students summarize what they've read, to gain a better understanding of the material.

The above in green came directly from:

As teachers (and parents) we should be following the GRADUAL RELEASE OF RESPONSIBILITY MODEL found here: and DIFFERENTIATE instruction:



Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed., CAGS. "How to Teach a Guided Reading Group & Best Practices!"Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web.  <>.

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